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Archive for Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sharp threads feel kind of … grown-up

October 31, 2006

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In my ongoing quest - so far, about 53 percent successful - to simulate adulthood, I have lately begun wearing a jacket to work.

Nothing fancy: I only have two. One is a blue blazer I've owned for a decade but never really used except for job interviews and special occasions. The other is a tan herringbone sport coat I bought a year ago for times when I wanted to look pretty.

Other than that, my daily uniform has remained pretty much the same: button-down shirt, tie, khaki pants, brown shoes. I could be more imaginative and, you know, vary the color of the pants and shoes from time to time - but honestly, I don't want to have to spend mental time in the morning figuring out which pieces of clothing match with the others.

I'm a low-maintenance dresser.

So the reaction to the jacket has been a bit stunning. For the last couple of weeks, people have come up to me in the office to tell me how nice I look.

"It's just the jacket," I say, trying to be honest. "Nothing else has changed."

Nonetheless, the compliments continue.

My wife even likes it. Whenever I put on my jacket in the morning - the last thing before leaving the house - she gives me a big smile and tells me how cute I look. Which is why I keep putting on the jackets every day; I'm not a dummy.

It's kind of like being a reverse superhero. I don't have to rip off my jacket and tie to be endowed with special powers; I have to "keep them on."

This reaction to a single piece of clothing makes me wonder what we, as a society, have lost in the last few decades as the "Casual Friday" culture has taken over. I see the pictures from the '50s and earlier - every man is wearing a jacket. Most are wearing hats.

Could it be they were more beautiful than us?

Probably. In "North By Northwest," Cary Grant was the hero of an action film in which he wore the same impeccably tailored suit throughout - with a brief pause in the action so he could get it cleaned. Who could pull that off today?

I'm not aiming for Grantlike elegance; it would take too many martinis. But I'm going to go buy a couple more jackets sometime soon.

And I'm going to let my wife pick them out.

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